Wind gets stronger

A new report launched by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) predicts that despite temporary supply chain difficulties, international wind markets are set to continue their growth.

In 2006, total installed capacity increased by 25% globally, generating some €18bn worth of new generating equipment and bringing global wind power capacity up to more than 74GW.

While the EU is still the leading market in wind energy with over 48GW of installed capacity, other continents such as North America and Asia are developing at a tremendous pace.

‘Despite the strong growth we have witnessed in the past, we estimate that the biggest developments are still ahead,’ said Angelika Pullen, GWEC’s Policy & Communications Director. ‘Until the end of the current decade, the cumulative capacity of wind energy installations is predicted to reach 149.5GW, more than double the installed capacity at the end of 2006.’

The average annual cumulative growth rate during the period 2006-2010 will be 19.1%, compared with 24.3% in the period 2002-2006. The annual installed capacity is predicted to reach 21GW in 2010, an increase of 38% from the15.2GW installed in 2006.

Europe will continue to be the most important market, but with a smaller share than in the past as the industry becomes more global. In 2004, Europe still represented 72% of the annual market, but this share went down to 55% in 2005 and to 51% in 2006. This trend is expected to continue, and in 2010, Europe is expected to have 44% of the annual market (9.3GW) and 55% of the total global installed capacity (82GW). Delays in the offshore market have pushed large-scale offshore development towards the end of the decade. However, offshore development will give a new momentum to the European market during the next decade.

Market trends

The North American market is expected to continue to be the second largest regional market in terms of total installed capacity with an average annual growth rate of 24.6%. From 9.8GW installed at the end of 2006, it is estimated to reach 31.6GW by the end of 2010. The US market will be the most important national market in the world during the period 2007-2010 with a predicted average installation of 3.5GW per year. There is an uncertainty with the PTC ending by the end of 2008, but it seems likely that it will be extended, and high-level support from an increasing number of state governments assures that the market will continue to grow strongly. By 2010, the US will be on par with Germany in terms of cumulative installed capacity.

The Asian market has exceeded all previous estimations thanks to unexpectedly strong growth in China. Asia will have the highest average annual growth rate (28.3%) during the period under consideration. The total installed capacity should reach 29GW at the end of 2010, up from 10.7GW in 2006. With a predicted installed capacity of 8,000MW during the period 2007-2010, India will continue to be the continental leader and the fourth country globally. China will be a close second, with the highest growth rate and a predicted installed capacity also of 8,000MW during the period.

In 2006, there were encouraging developments in Latin America and the Caribbean, with new installations of 296MW. During the period 2007-2010 the market will take off, starting with Brazil and followed by Mexico. Smaller developments will also take place in some countries of Central America as well as in Argentina and Chile. Despite its large potential, Latin America will remain a small market until the end of this decade, progressing towards significant development in the next decade.

In the Pacific region, the wind energy development slowed considerably in 2006, with only 112MW of new installations. However, despite some uncertainties regarding the political framework, the development is predicted to continue in Australia with 1,000GW to be installed in the period 2007-2010. Although very little new capacity was added in New Zealand in 2006, many projects are in different phases of development indicating that 400MW could be added by 2010.

Africa remains the continent with the smallest wind development but two countries, Egypt and Morocco, are taking a lead. Development in these two countries is expected to pick up, and some development is predicted in other North African and Middle East countries, adding a total of 900MW during the period 2007-2010 for the whole continent.

‘The IPCC concludes that the climate change problem can be tackled with existing technologies at a very reasonable cost, but that stronger political will is needed to deploy them on a large scale in order to have a real impact,’ said Steve Sawyer, GWEC’s Secretary General. ‘If decision makers around the world are genuinely committed to making a difference now, they have to rethink their energy policy and make the deployment of renewable energy technologies, such as wind energy, their number one priority.’